Letter to the editor: Republicans need to step out from behind their false mask of security

Five years after 9/11, the Bush administration has failed to keep us safe. In fact, we are less safe.

The war in Iraq has diverted attention from protecting America from terrorism. In fact, this past week 9/11 commissioners said Iraq is distracting from security at home.

The war in Iraq has inflamed the whole Middle East and is helping Al Qaeda attract new recruits. Osama Bin Laden is still on the loose. The US has attracted more ill will in the past 6 years than we have in a long while.

Katrina showed all of us that the Republicans aren’t able to protect America at home. We weren’t prepared despite warnings and we haven’t really recovered. Distracted?

The Republican Congress hasn’t followed through on the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission.

In light of these observations, Republican political attacks during last week’s terror threat are outrageous. Continuing to pretend that republicans are the only ones who will protect America go against the facts we have seen over the last few years.

Furthermore, as much as Bush would hate to admit it, any president is left with the military of the previous administration. He fought his war with Clinton’s well prepared army and will leave the next administration with a much weaker military and enormous debt.

Safer? I don’t think so.

-Alan Blount-

sent to: The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, and The Columbus Dispatch

freedom toaster – a great idea

Again, I’m amazed at the generosity of human beings.  Perhaps silly, perhaps underused (no idea), and obviously narrow in scope… none the less, I’m still impressed that people have volunteered to make the following happen:

Freedom Toaster

Freedom Toasters are conveniently located, self-contained,
computer-based, ‘Bring ‘n Burn’ facilities.

Like vending machines,
preloaded to dispense confectionery, Freedom Toasters are preloaded to
dispense free digital products, including software, photography, music and literature.

The Freedom Toaster project began as a means of overcoming the
difficulty in obtaining Linux and Open Source software due to the
restrictive telecommunications environment in South Africa, where the
easy downloading of large pieces of software is just not possible for everyone.

powered by performancing firefox

Nuclear weapons, still.

I’m not nearly as anti-nuclear as most of my socially conceious friends… at least as it relates to nuclear power and research. That said, I’m seriously worried about the “bigger stick” theory as it escelates into… well… the upper ranges of weaponry we’ve had for a few decades. Though we’ve been sitting on (or making more) weapons and not really attacking with them (just testing them)… they exist to be used and can be within minutes from right now. {is one in the air already?} I don’t worry about this with every breath, but that is only due to my human nature, allowing me to hide in ignorance when I want to.

Imagine being worried someone will break into your garage… so you might make a boobie trap – suspending a huge hunk of metal over your car… no worries, it’s being help up until triggered. Ok, nobody’s been breaking in – it’s a good device – make a few more… great. Now what? A few more… of course. Now what? I suppose we just gotta hope nothing triggers the devices which would at this point smash everything.


Bunker-Busting the Nuclear Taboo by Tom Engelhardt

By the time the Russians got their [first nuclear bomb] in 1949, the U.S. had 235 in its arsenal. By the time Britain got its first (“Hurricane”) in 1953, the U.S. had 1,436 and the Soviets, 120; by the time France had its first four and China its first in 1964, the U.S. had 31,056; the Russians, 5,221; and the British, 310.

And those were the big five, the atomic Big Boys, who, for years, made up the “nuclear club.” By the time, in 1967, the Israelis reportedly got the first nuclear weapon in their never admitted arsenal of, by now, perhaps 200, the U.S. had 31,233; the Russians, 8,339; Britain, 270; France, 36; and China, 25. By the time, India got its first (“Smiling Buddha”) in 1974, the U.S. had 28,965; the Russians, 17,385; the British, 325; the French, 145; the Chinese, 170. By the time Pakistan got its own in 1998, the U.S. had 10,871; the Russians, 23,000; the British, 260; the French, 450; and the Chinese, 400. (South Africa produced six nuclear weapons, but dismantled them as the apartheid era was ending in the early 1990s.)


On coming to power, the Bush administration claimed that one of its central purposes was to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. In this endeavor, it concentrated all of its energies on three “nuclear” states: Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, which at the time of the U.S. invasion in 2003, had not had an actual nuclear program for years; Iran, whose “bomb” – the focus of almost all-absorbing administration and media attention these last years – according to the latest National Intelligence Estimate (and all reasonable observers) is perhaps a decade away, should the present Iranian regime really opt to build it; and North Korea, which had no nuclear weapons in 2000, but may now have several, though whether with appropriate delivery systems or not is unclear. (Were that country actually to use such a weapon, however, its leadership, intensely concerned with its own survival, would essentially be committing national suicide.)

vacation in houston

Anita, our step sister Maddie (14), and I went to Houston, from July 20 through August 1st.  We drove.

First, we drove to and camped at the Hot Springs National Park, during the hottest part of a heat wave.  Our A/C could occasionally not keep up, it was so hot… so when we ended up at the park, we went wading (which turned into swimming for some) in a creek that ran through the park.  The park itself was nice enough.  A little more developed than I would like, but at the same time much more less than most commercial campgrounds and pretty much what you might expect form a National Park.  There were some good trails we barely explored and the setting was pretty, no doubt.  It ended up being so hot, Anita and I slept outside of the tent – preferring insect affliction to heat.

We then finished the drive to Gainesville, TX, quickly – visiting my Uncle Bob and Aunt Doris.  We played Chicken Foot, ate food, went for a drive around town and a walk around the cemetery (I have lots of names I should associate on stone there).  Doris and Bob both looked good, and were as warm and friendly as always.  They had a small dog (Shitzu) which was actually really cool for a small dog… unusual.

After spending the night and the morning in Gainesville, we drove to Rosenberg, TX (southwest of Houston); finally at my mom’s house.  Here we started a pattern we often repeated: playing games, eating food, occasionally starting/doing projects, a lot of waiting on things to start, and enjoying glorious proximity.  Some of the highlights include: doing clay projects on mom’s potter’s wheel, playing with the chickens (not really playing, but it felt kinda like that to us “city folk”), setting up and using the above ground pool (~15′ diameter), playing ping-pong (I got beat by Lucilo), and several good meals.  We planned on going fishing in Galveston, but weren’t able to because of rain – but that didn’t stop clay work nor going to museums.

One of the main things that happened was the preparation for and attendance of the “Celebration of Life” Memorial Service for my Grandmother: Margaret RuthPennington (Penny).  She died of complications from Alzheimer’s Disease, after a 15 year struggle.  It was sad, but after that long, and her being progressively debilitated for so long, it was almost a relief (for her sake).  I plan on writing something specific to her at some point, so I wont go into it too much here, but it was a huge part of that trip – a theme which brought us together and made us hold on to each other. 

After the service and another day of hanging out with family, we headed back home… at the begining of yet another heat wave.  We stayed in a hotel that night, somewhere around Memphis and made it to Louisville, early afternoon on July 31.  Anita and I made it back to Columbus on August 1st and tried to relax, as best we could.  (~2500 miles traveled)